LGBT Students Face Heartbreaking Treatment at an Oregon High School

Liv and Hailey, students at North Bend High School

Last month, a professor at Willamette University College of Law reached out to our office for help on a case her student-run legal clinic had been working on. It was, Professor Warren Binford said, one of the worst cases of discrimination at a school that she had ever seen in Oregon. In our job, we hear a lot of awful and heartbreaking cases, but the cruel treatment of LGBTQ students at North Bend High School shocked us.

LGBTQ students at the rural school on the Oregon coast have been harassed, threatened, bullied, and assaulted just for being who they are. What is worse is that when these students turned to the adults in charge to protect them, the school administrators, teachers, and staff ignored their pleas for help. Instead they  told one of our clients she was going to hell for being gay, subjected LGBTQ students to harsher discipline than their straight peers, and equated homosexuality with bestiality. We also learned that both LGBTQ students and straight students have been forced to recite Bible passages as a punishment.

This is wrong on so many levels. The law specifically protects young LGBTQ people in school from bullying and being punished more harshly than their straight peers. Public schools aren’t allowed to force students to read the Bible for punishment or any other reason. That the school needed the Oregon Department of Education to step in to stop such clear violations of the law is astounding.

Two brave young women, Liv and Hailey, have been fighting to change their school. With the help of a friendly school counselor and Willamette Law’s legal clinic, they took their case to the Oregon Department of Education. The agency conducted a months-long investigation and found substantial evidence of discrimination and other violations of state and federal law. 

Details of the cases were leaked to the local paper, and the school district has tried to downplay what happened. We have heard from a number of other current and former students, teachers, and other district staff who witnessed or were subjected to this kind of mistreatment at North Bend High School. Most of them are still too afraid of the current administration to come forward with their complaints.

Liv and Hailey have asked for serious changes at the school. For them, policy on paper isn’t enough if it isn’t enforced, and they want to make sure that other students will not have to face discrimination at school again. The school refused to make the changes, so, with our help, Liv and Hailey are continuing to pursue their case. Next week, there will be a hearing in their case, and we will represent them. Liv and Hailey will ask the state Education Department to affirm its finding of substantial evidence of discrimination and demand that North Bend high school administrators be held accountable.

It is clear that the school is not doing its job of protecting and treating all students fairly. Every kid deserves to have a safe and welcoming school, no matter their sexual orientation, gender identity, race or ethnicity, disability, or religious beliefs. Whether you live in a big city or a small town, the law and the Constitution protect the right to an education free from discrimination. 

If you or anyone you know has experienced discrimination or mistreatment at a public school in Oregon, please reach out to us. 

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Anonymous

I actually went to North bend high two years ago, it is rediculous, at one point my teacher was sleeping in the back of class, no teachers monitoring in the hallway most of the time, something needs to change at this school. They don't help kids going through a hard time, I was actually made to walk home from school for crying during school hours without even being asked why. I'm glad someone is stepping up to cause a change

Anonymous

I also attended NBHS over 30 years ago and was targeted by a self proclaimed Cristian teacher who could do no wrong. As a result he failed me and I graduated late as a result. These teachers and administrators target and single out anyone who doesn't conform or those who have different view points. This is more like a School ran by Someone like Hitler. Amazing it has gone on this long. I have often sat and tried to come up with a way to feel better about my high school experience which resulted in PTSD. I think I have finally found resolve in hearing that these teachers and administrators will finally get what they deserve. Thank God, he listens and makes it right eventually!

A T

There is a lot wrong with this entire thing. First off, you're probably older than 50 and you're still holding a grudge. Also, you yourself are a "self-proclaimed Christian" and these events occurred 30+ years ago. The administration and the teachers have all changed, in the way they teach and the way they think. Comparing our anyone to Hitler is horrifically offensive, no matter your opinion about them. I'm sorry you developed a mental health disorder, but you don't even know who these people are and you're thinking "oh they got what they deserve because I was singled out as a 15 year old." Sad.

Anonymous

I also attended NBHS over 30 years ago and was targeted by a self proclaimed Cristian teacher who could do no wrong. As a result he failed me and I graduated late as a result. These teachers and administrators target and single out anyone who doesn't conform or those who have different view points. This is more like a School ran by Someone like Hitler. Amazing it has gone on this long. I have often sat and tried to come up with a way to feel better about my high school experience which resulted in PTSD. I think I have finally found resolve in hearing that these teachers and administrators will finally get what they deserve. Thank God, he listens and makes it right eventually!

Anonymous

Attitudes have improved but it depends on where you live. We must continue to educate and protect our youth to be free to be themselves.

Anonymous

These kids are the weird ones that don’t go to any of their classes and watch hentai. No one is going to like you if you act like a fucking freak

Pam

Don't let them go to Adventist Health, one one the doctors told me to my face she would let her own child commit suicide before supporting them being gay or transgender. I reported her, so my neurologist is refusing to treat me now. (He works with her at Adventist health) I have multiple breaks in my back, an ongoing fever for weeks, low WBC, 5 months dragging thanks to them! Biased assholes!!! Anyone know an attorney before I die?

A T

I am currently attending North Bend High School. I can tell you right now that most of these stories stemmed from an article posted on The World Link, written by an author who is known to despise our building administrator. The alleged assault occurred when the girl stole the boy's skateboard, and he reacted by hitting her. The people allegedly 'forced to read the Bible as punishment,' as some articles state, were given a choice after cussing out a teacher between serving detention, washing tables at lunch, or reading verse James 3:6, essentially saying that the tongue, when fiery, corrupts. The media is blowing the story out of proportion to amplify readers' interest and build their own platforms. You wouldn't listen to just one side if it was your child allegedly yelling discriminatory terms at people, would you? So please don't listen to just one side of this. Our school and our own students are coming under fire for an exaggeration and we just want to be left out of it. The Bible should not have been used at our school and the mistake has been corrected. North Bend High School is an incredibly accepting and understanding school, and we have been turned into a victim of a blown-up story.

Anonymous

soooo true

Kathleen Gorda

I want to know why this was not taken to the DA for a hate crime. It was settled and now Mr. Lucero is suing for his job back and back pay. It was wrong then and its still wrong. My children were subjected to his bullying and comraderie of good old boys and it was heart breaking. If given back pay and his job back then all of the good that was done will be eliminated.

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